Whew. Glad that’s done with. No more worries about rising interest rates or higher bond yields. No more fretting over lower earnings and revenue guidance for the fourth quarter and 2024. No more nightmares about a wider Middle East war. Or a government shutdown on November 17. Or…
Well, you get the idea.
I don’t think any of these things are behind us. The rally of the last day and a half–I’m writing this at 1 p.m. Nw work time on Thursday–is a product of a little bit of possible good news from the Fed and from the U.S. Treasury (on a small reduction in the size of the next Treasury auction) and a temporarily oversold market resulting from a lot of bad days in a row. I’m not saying this is just a dead cat bounce (you know the image–even dead cats bounce, but they don’t bounce far). Good news from Apple (AAPL) on earning and revenue after the close today. And tomorrow’s jobs report for October could be weak enough to keep the “Fed is done” narrative going without being so weak that it resurrects fears of an economic slowdown.
The NASDAQ Composite was still up 23.75% as of the close on October 25. But the index is now down 12.2% from its July 31 high as of the close on October 26. That’s correction territory.
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Monty Python observed back in 1970 before attempting to torture a coal-miner’s wife with a dish rack. There’s an important investing version of this core truth: The financial market usually worries about the wrong problem. So that when the “Spanish Inquisition” (in financial terms) finally arrives, everybody is surprised. Well, we investors and traders have done it to ourselves again. We’ve spent much of 2022 and a good part of 2023 worrying about whether Federal Reserve interest rate increases would send the economy into a recession. There are still a few recession die hards worrying about that possibility, but by and large the worry has shifted to whether or not the Fed will delay its rate cuts in 2024–and thus delay the arrival of the “rate-cut-bounce.” While MANY–but certainly not all–investors, traders, and market analysts have been looking OVER THERE, however, the credit markets have built up a huge debt overhead and the global debt bomb looks ever closer to exploding. A crisis with the dire effects of the Global Financial Crisis of mid-2007 to 2009 is a possibility. I’d “guess” that most portfolios aren’t ready. The time to get ready is now. This increasingly looks like a debt market crisis of the type known as a Minsky Moment. To get ready first understand the source of the problem. I’m putting together a new Special Report for next week on what to do to get ready. Today’s post is a kind of set up, a get ready for the post on getting ready, if you will.
Gold was up 1.9% in trading on COMEX today to $1876 an ounce on war in Israel and Gaza and fears that it would become a wider conflict in the region. I’ve been looking for an exit from two of my gold positions for a while now. And tomorrow is a good exit point, I think.
The VIX, the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index, climbed another 12.32% today, October 2, to 19.78. The Call Options–with a strike at 17 and an expiration on December 20–I bought on the VIX on September 25 are up 38% as of the close on October 2. (I hold them in my Volatility Portfolio.) I’m inclined to hold them a bit longer because:
I’m going to take advantage of today’s pop in Nvidia (NVDA) to sell the shares out of my very short-term Volatility Portfolio tomorrow, Tuesday, October 2. The shares closed up at the close today at $447.82, a gain of 2.95% on the day. I initiated the position in the Volatily Portfolio on Mach 25, 2023. It was up 66% as of the close today So why sell Nvidia here?
So what do you do with your portfolio for the rest of 2023? And what’s your best strategy to be prepared for 2024? In Part 1 of this Special Report I laid out the 10 developments that I thought would drive the financial markets for the rest of 223 and into 2024. Today, in Part 2, I’m going to give you the first 2 of 10 moves to take–with as much detail and as many specifics as possible–that you should be making now to position your portfolio for the uncertainties of the last quarter of 2023.
Tomorrow, Monday, morning I’ll buy CBOE S&P Volatility Index (VIX) Call Options (so the options will go up in price if volatility does) for my Volatility Portfolio. I’m buying the December 20 Call Options with a strike price of 17 (VIX231220C00017000.)
Now that Fed day is done and behind us, we return to our regularly scheduled programming. Back on September 15, I posted “A tough day for tech–Part 1” after news on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) reporting that the company was slowing orders with suppliers of chip making equipment because of sluggish demand for chips from its customers. Now onto Part 2 of bad news for tech stocks.
The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures short-term volatility in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stocks, has been stuck below its long-term average of near 17 since the regional bank crisis of March 2023. In recent months, the VIX has had a hard time breaking above 17 with the index spending most of its time down about 15. Today, at 1 p.m. New York time, the VIX was at just 14.01, down 0.71% ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision. There’s just no fear in this market. So it will extremely interesting to see if today’s interest rate decision and the release of new Dot Plot forecasts for interest rates, inflation, economic growth, and unemployment today from the Fed has any effect of market complacency.
Tomorrow September 8, I’m selling shares of U.S Oil Fund (USO) out of my Jubak Picks ad Volatility Portfolios to take profits on the 25% really in oil since June and to raise some cash in case September volatility delivers a bargain or two.